It all depends on who wants the guns (plus an update on the Showdown at Bundy Ranch)

A month after a deranged mother-murderer shot up that elementary school in Connecticut in 2012, California state Sen. Leland Yee, 65, described by the Los Angeles Times as “a hero of gun regulators,” helped introduce what was seen as one of the toughest pieces of gun control legislation in the country, an attempt to ban all across California the “bullet button.”

If you don’t know a “bullet button” is, it’s another device, like the old “thumbhole stock,” designed specifically to comply with the ridiculous language of absurd “gun-control” laws.

California years ago banned “large” (meaning “regular”) magazines which can be quickly changed by pushing a magazine release lever, see, requiring that rifles have “fixed” magazines that can be removed only by using a tool.

Scratching their heads, manufacturers came up with a release lever that can be operated only with a tool – pushing in a recessed button with, say, the tip of a bullet — in order to comply with the law. Gun-banners, of course, responded by trying to ban the new, legal configuration (designed to meet a requirement THEY had set), shrieking that it’s merely an attempt “to “get around the law” – kind of like saying that if you drive 59 miles per hour, you’re trying to “get around” a law designed to prevent high-speed driving by setting a 60 mph speed limit.

“We must limit access to weapons that can result in such catastrophe and mass murder,” Sen. Yee said.

Yee’s legislation was eventually folded into a package of proposals that were vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last October.

After the veto, Yee said he was “recommitted” to passing his legislation, claiming it would “protect the public while keeping an appropriately narrow scope.”

Although I don’t know why it would surprise anyone – you thought politicians had principles and were only trying to “protect the children”? – there was thus apparently some shock in certain quarters in late March when state Sen. Yee was busted by FBI agents on arms trafficking and corruption charges.

Mr. Yee has not been convicted of anything and is entitled to a presumption of innocence. But what FBI agents contend in affidavits filed with the court is that Yee secretly offered to connect an undercover FBI agent with an international arms trafficker in exchange for campaign contributions — $30,000 to date.

During the investigation, the undercover agent mentioned his desire to spend as much as $2.5 million on automatic “shoulder-fired” weapons and missiles, the complaint said.

The complaint quotes Yee as saying “Once things start to move, it’s going to attract attention. We just got to be extra-extra careful.”

Among the other 25 defendants rounded up were Yee’s campaign aide, Keith Jackson, and Raymond Chow, a supposedly “former” gang leader in San Francisco’s Chinatown better known there as “Shrimp Boy.”

Yee, a former San Francisco mayoral candidate, had been running to be California’s next secretary of state. After spending one night in jail he withdrew from that race. The following day the Legislature voted to suspend him from the state Senate. On March 31 Yee’s lawyer indicated he would plead not guilty, although Gov. Jerry Brown called on him to resign anyway.

In an affidavit filed in federal court on March 23, FBI special agent Emmanuel Pascua said Yee attracted the attention of the FBI through Chow, who was described in the complaint as “the Dragonhead, or leader, of the San Francisco-based Chee Kung Tong organization.”

Yee lost his campaign for mayor of San Francisco in November, 2011. That left him with $70,000 in campaign debt. As Yee prepared to run for secretary of state, Pascua said he and Jackson sought donations to retire that debt from an undercover agent.

In January, Pascua said Yee met with Jackson and the undercover agent at a coffee shop, where they discussed getting the weapons from Russia. “Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money,” Yee said, according to Pascua’s affidavit. “Do I think we can get the goods? I think we can get the goods.”

Pascua reports Yee, Jackson, and the undercover agent met again in February, at which point the state senator dismissed ethical concerns about the weapons deal, saying “People want to get whatever they want to get. Do I care? No, I don’t care. People need certain things.”

So when law-abiding citizens — de facto members of the militia — want to acquire firearms of military usefulness, a right which the Constitution says may not be infringed, “We must limit access to weapons that can result in such catastrophe and mass murder.” But when gangsters are willing to hand our leading gun-control politicians tens of thousands in bribes — pardon me, “campaign donations” — to facilitate arming said gangsters with fully automatic assault weapons, that’s OK, because “People need certain things”?

Got it.

# # #

Meantime, I see where the federals have made another attempt to drive Cliven Bundy’s cattle off the land, 80-odd miles east of Las Vegas, Nevada.

But – surprise – about a thousand patriots found their way to little Bunkerville, and after spending millions of dollars to collect a few hundred thousand in “delinquent grazing fees” (and killing and burying dozens of the cattle they were supposedly there to “round up,” including two valuable bulls) the armed BLM thugs and their escort of Homeland Security combat troops backed down on April 12.

Despite being flanked by helmeted troops with their rifles leveled, about a hundred everyday American citizens (including former military, former law enforcement officers, and a contingent from the admirable constitutional Oath Keepers organization) advanced on the pen where the federals were holding some 400 head of Bundy’s cattle, just south of Interstate 15, and set them free. “If anyone on either side had popped off a round, it would have been a massacre,” I’m told by someone who was there.

Why hadn’t the invaders already trucked the cattle away? Congratulations to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert for writing a letter to the BLM, informing them he didn’t want any of those rustled cattle brought into Utah, where cattle from this remote corner of southeast Nevada are usually sold.

I’ll be filing a longer piece on the Showdown at Bundy Ranch — and the real motives of the federals, which have nothing to do with “saving baby tortoises” — for the next issue of the quarterly “Range” magazine, based here in Nevada.

In brief, though, as I write in the May 19 issue of Shotgun News (on newsstands now!): Cliven, who fired the feds as “advisors” for his range management plan decades ago, points out that grazing rights in Nevada are adjudicated by the state, not the federal government, and that his family’s exclusive grazing rights to those lands have been confirmed by the state for more than a century.

More than a decade ago, the BLM managed to get a federal judge of less than average intelligence to buy their contrary argument, that the federal government OWNS the majority of the lands in Nevada, and that Bundy is therefore “trespassing” on “federal land” which Washington acquired in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo — 15 years before Nevada became a state.
Did you follow that? Wouldn’t that mean that the federal government “owns” all the land from Louisiana to Minnesota to Colorado to Iowa to Montana and points in between, having “acquired it in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase,” and that federal rangers can therefore evict any private party whom they believe to be “trespassing” there, especially if they refuse to sign agreements under which federal officials tell them how to “manage” their land to better protect some supposedly “threatened” weed, bug, or toad?

In fact, the U.S. Constitution sensibly dictates that Washington can own lands “within the several states” only for forts, dockyards, and other “needful buildings,” and that to acquire these parcels it must “purchase them with the consent of the Legislature of the State” in which those parcels are located. Needless to say, the federal government has never sought permission from the Nevada State Legislature to buy the lands in question; it has never purchased them; it has no bill of sale, nor does it pay property taxes on all these lands it “controls and manages” – more than 80 percent of the lands in the state — as any legitimate land-owner would.

So in any dispute between the Bundys, who’ve been on the land with full legal rights for a century, and the BLM — established in 1946 not to collect taxes or wield any police powers but merely to “promote beneficial use of the land” — who’s “trespassing”?

In the old days, the federals rested their management claims on the fact that the Territorial Legislature agreed prior to Nevada’s admission into the union in 1863 that they wouldn’t contest federal control of these lands. But “control” is not ownership, nor is a territorial legislature a “state legislature,” nor is it clear that such actions can be binding on a sovereign state after admission, given that all states are presumed to enter the union on an equal footing.

The federals claim Bundy must be evicted because he’s grazing cattle on a few thousand acres of desert scrub south of the small town of Mesquite without signing a grazing permit and paying grazing fees. But that’s disingenuous. Wouldn’t that imply that — once they get rid of Bundy — they’ll then turn around and lease this range to some other rancher, who WILL sign a grazing permit and pay their fees? In fact they won’t, and the way we know this is that the other 51 ranchers who ran cattle in Clark County in 1950 are all gone, because the federal aim is to set terms so uneconomical – forcing ranchers to pull their cattle off the range in the springtime, the only time there’s enough rain to provide enough graze to fatten the animals — as to make ranching a losing enterprise. This is all supposedly to keep the little baby desert tortoises from being stepped on by the big nasty cattle, when in fact the main predators of desert tortoises are coyote and ravens, which the ranchers formerly suppressed, but which now swarm uncontrolled.

That’s why no one now grazes the other 51 allotments in Clark County, leaving Cliven Bundy to correctly describe himself as “the last rancher from here to the Pacific Ocean” — while “rescued” desert tortoises so clog the shelters that officials are now euthanizing them.

The federals contend they’re doing all this to “protect the threatened desert tortoise,” though I’ve documented again and again over the years (citing such experts as Vern Bostick) that government wildlife experts admit the desert tortoise is “at saturation levels” in the wild, and that all evidence demonstrates the tortoises do better when cattle are on the land, with the ranchers putting in drips and tanks and maintaining the water features.

(In fact, the Kern River Pipeline study found more tortoises on grazed land, but found the very highest concentration of the supposedly ”threatened” desert tortoise near urban golf courses. So saying we need to get ranchers and cattle off the land to “protect” the tortoise is like saying we need to level all the man-made buildings on Manhattan Island to “protect the threatened” pigeon, which in fact is eternally grateful to mankind for erecting all those wonderful window ledges.)

Cliven’s getting older and can’t hold out forever. Someday Eastern environmentalists will succeed in getting federal officials to “establish” their irrational Green religion at gunpoint, all the range cattle will be gone, and no one will be eating anything but hormone- and antibiotic-laced feedlot meat. Hope you enjoy it.

19 Comments to “It all depends on who wants the guns (plus an update on the Showdown at Bundy Ranch)”

  1. Thomas Mitchell Says:

    Frankly, someone should go to fail for destroyed Bundy’s water tank.

  2. MamaLiberty Says:

    Thank goodness! I was starting to wonder if the feebs had you tied up in a back room somewhere. :) Write something more often, wouldja? Just type in HI MAMA and hit publish every few days or so, if you don’t have time for anything else. :)

  3. LiberTarHeel Says:

    I second MamaLiberty’s emotion. I needed someone actually in the know to give me the ‘true puda’ on Bunkerville. Here’s hoping that whatever you publish elsewhere will find its way here.

    Hi Mama!

  4. R. Hartman Says:

    In a moral world, the BLM-vandals should be made to pay for the damages they’ve done. On a personal basis, so they’ll stop hiding behind their organization.

  5. A.D. Hopkins Says:

    Vern Bostick, mentioned here, is a name to remember. I wrote some stories about Bostick’s wildlife research and noticed that he was as objective as any scientist I ever met. His findings were what the data indicated, and not necessarily what the people paying for the study wanted to hear. And that brings a lot of credibility to his finding that tortoises actually do better on lands being currently grazed by cattle. I would add that I have never seen a flattened tortoise in a cow pasture or on the range, or in fact anywhere except on a public road.

  6. Steve Says:

    I am not so sure the Bundy family has been ranching that land for more than century…Channel 8 KLAS went on a hunt trying to prove it and they could only trace back to the 1950′s

    Other than that, there is plenty wrong with our “benevolent” government minion actions of which we may take offense.

  7. Vin Says:

    Hi, Steve — In America, property rights often transfer through marriage and can be inherited from the matrilinear as well as the patrilinear line. Cliven Bundy and his sons told me on April 24 the grazing rights on the Mesquite allotment came down through the Abbotts, the Leavitts, and the Jensens on his mother’s side, and thus have been in the “Bundy” name only since Cliven’s father, Dave Bundy, came to Bunkerville and married Cliven’s mother, Bedol Jensen (I’m currently trying to double-check that spelling, though the Bundys are in the middle of a veritable press typhoon), in 1944. Prior to 1944, the Bundys report rights to some of the range were purchased from neighbors who went out of the cattle business. The rights would presumably accompany ownerships of the core deeded property, which is (I believe) 160 acres on the bank of the Virgin River. Thus, the disappearance of the “Bundy” name if we go back beyond 1944 would not be a surprise, but would hardly prove a break in ancestral “family” ownership. More to the point, the family DID pay Taylor Grazing Act fees from 1934 up through the 1980s, when Cliven Bundy refused to continue signing proposed “range management” contracts which would have bankrupted him by forcing him to remove all cattle from the land from February through June. The federals were supposed to keep 12 1/2 percent of those fees for administrative costs, returning 88 percent to benefit the land and the rancher through funding range improvements (like the Bundy-owned 12,000-gallon water tank which the BLM destroyed with torches during their armed invasion this month, indicating Bundy is right about their having perverted their original mission.) One of the main benefits the federals promised in exchange for those fees was that they would “adjudicate” boundaries for grazing rights. If the federals did not agree Cliven Bundy’s family had the grazing rights, why did they sign contracts with this family and accept their fees for 50 years? If the BLM wants to contend someone else holds the grazing rights to the allotment, why don’t they simply go into Nevada state court, which adjudicates such matters, and present their evidence? They refuse to do so, presumably because a) to do so would be to acknowledge state authority over such matters and over this land, granting the Bundys full constitutional rights including the right to a jury trial, and b) because, I will dare to presume, they have no other credible claimant.
    – Vin

  8. Steve Says:

    Thanks, Vin!
    Had to be something like that, makes me wonder how the (cross) eye(d) team missed it….or whether they wanted to find anything like it in the first place.

    I am good with the rest after “more to the point”..the BLM is the problem here that is certain…though Bundy made some mistakes that cost him in court, I don’t believe those mattered as the Hage case shows what lengths the feds are willing to go in out waiting the people.
    What doesn’t make sense is it really does seem to be all about that pseudo science being pushed by the center for biological diversity…
    Too late for ranching, along comes this:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140418161437.htm

  9. R. Hartman Says:

    @ Steve
    “though Bundy made some mistakes that cost him in court”
    Maybe, maybe not. He shouldn’t have been in THAT court to begin with. You can’t have the FEDs decide what’s their’s. It’s like the butcher who rates the quality of his own meat. Where’s the independent judgement there? It should’ve been a Nevada State court, not a federal court.

  10. Steve Says:

    That is a catch 22 for sure…Nevada courts would be a place to start and they would lead to the feds…inevitably taking as long as or longer than either Wayne Hage or Cliven Bundy..

    Seems to me, for the bureaucrats, its simply a waiting game and only the government is immortal.

  11. mcridge Says:

    Thanks Vin and to the various commenters for clarifying what has been a confusing and contradictory situation. I feel vindicated in my gut feelings that the BLM and the FedGov are trampling on Clive Bundy’s rights without a shred of legal basis.

  12. Brunette Says:

    HI, MAMA!

    As I think you know, it’s been a heck of a year for us. We’re so very glad to be out of Vegas, enjoying the peace and quiet of the country … anyway, IOU an email and hope to get to that soon. Lots of love!

  13. MamaLiberty Says:

    Hello, dear. I’ll be tickled to get an email. This is sort of like trying to talk across our back fences… a thousand miles apart!! LOL

    Lots of love, and hug the big guy for me.

  14. Vin's Brunette Says:

    For those of you wanting to make heads or tails of the ongoing Bundy Ranch saga, I’ll post a few links here. Vin has of course written much about the Bundys, the desert tortoise, and related subjects — he’s currently working intensively on a feature for Range Magazine, as well as his novel in progress, so he’s hard at work even if the blog may not show it.

    Further suggested reading, for anyone who’s interested:

    Our friend Thomas Mitchell has been busy posting some great material here …
    http://4thst8.wordpress.com/

    And, of course, the Bundys themselves can be found here … http://bundyranch.blogspot.com/
    or here: https://www.facebook.com/bundyranch

    Las Vegas City Councilman (and future U.S. Senator? Let’s hope!) Bob Beers has also been blogging on the subject, here …
    http://beers4nevada.org/?page_id=460

    William N. Grigg has done some comprehensive writing, lots of great background, well worth your time, here:
    http://www.freedominourtime.blogspot.com/

    That’s just a start, of course — there’s so much on the web, alas much of it … not so thoughtful. We know Cliven and Carol Bundy, they’re decent, loving people — struggling against an inhumane bureaucracy, and a press that unfortunately often seems to be after blood (if it bleeds, it leads?) rather than trying to get to the truth of matters, or portray facts in an unbiased way.

    One last thought: Much of the debate seems to be about what laws, regulations, and parts of the U.S. and NV state Constitutions say. If changes in the law — or the way laws are interpreted/administered — have made the Bundys “scofflaws”, might it be that those laws are unjust laws? Didn’t Martin Luther King say we have a duty to disobey unjust laws? I think Henry David Thoreau said much the same thing. I think that principle lies near the heart of the Bundys’ dispute with the BLM.

    Similarly, why should a collector of antique ivory (or weapons, or guitars, etc.) suddenly become a criminal when a new ban is passed? Don’t we all remember the school bully who insisted on making the rules, and then changing them when it suited him? No wonder he always won the game, unless someone challenged him.

    Let’s pray he doesn’t win this one. The Bundys deserve our support and prayers.

  15. Frank Koza Says:

    One point on grazing fees, Vin. According to a 2012 CRS report by Carol Vincent, a percentage of those collected by BLM is supposed to go to the state where the land is located to be used to benefit the counties that generated the receipts. It differs by grazing district, from 12.5% for lands defined in section 3 of the Taylor Grazing Act as lands which BLM issues grazing permits to 50% for lands defined in section 15 which are lands outside grazing districts where BLM leases grazing allotments. By contrast, 25% of grazing fees collected by the Forestry Service go to the states.

    According to one of the BLM’s own documents (http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/las_vegas_field_office/cattle_trespass.Par.49759.File.dat/Gold%20Butte%20Cattle%20Trespass%20EA%20DOI-BLM-NVS010-2014-0020-EA%20(2).pdf), they’ve conveyed the grazing rights (they call them “preferences”) and range improvements of all those other allotments they acquired from “willing sellers” to either Clark County or The Nature Conservancy. The document states, “Grazing preference and range improvements for the Bunkerville allotment were conveyed to Clark County on December 29 and 31, 1998 by four willing sellers. The BLM cancelled the interest of the fifth allotment perrnittee due to tresspass and other legal issues.”

    Apparently those grazing “preferences” still exist in the hands of county officials, just not available for use by ranchers. Remember Bundy claimed to be willing to pay grazing fees to the county, not BLM.

  16. MamaLiberty Says:

    If you can ignore the idea of the “state” (any level) actually owning or being in control of the land, Nevada grazing fees are actually a bargain… http://www.nass.usda.gov/Charts_and_Maps/Grazing_Fees/gf_am.asp

    Some states are much higher. Think of this next time you pay $4. a pound for hamburger.

    Here is a good summary.

    Wyoming, Western, Central Nebraska and Western South Dakota
    2014 Annual Grazing Fee Report as of May 1, 2014
    http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/to_ls150.txt
    Prices quoted for cow/calf pairs are per unit/per month, and for
    yearlings per head/per month. Most contracts are for a 5 month season.
    Yearling price that are quoted on a per lb. gain are for the season.

    –Cow/Calf Pairs–
    –2014– –2013–

    Western Wyoming 18.00-28.00 19.00-25.00
    Mostly 22.00-25.00
    instances 32.00

    Eastern and 20.00-42.00, 20.00-42.00,
    Central Wyoming Mostly 25.00-35.00 Mostly 25.00-35.00

    Western Nebraska 30.00-50.00 35.00-45.00

    Central Nebraska 45.00-77.00, N/A
    Mostly 45.00-60.00

    S.W. South Dakota 25.00-50.00, 25.00-45.00,
    Mostly 30.00-50.00, Mostly 25.00-30.00,
    instances 70.00 instances 50.00-60.00

  17. stupidamerkin Says:

    It’s all boils down to, “Death by Gun Control.” http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/deathgc.htm

  18. Chan Says:

    Vin,

    Your writings should be on ActivistPost

  19. Bill Goode Says:

    I was there on 12 Apr, in the Toquop Wash, when the cattle were released. It seems someone gave you an altered story. The protestors could not reach the cattle pens because there was a fence & BLM agents blocking the way. Negotiations took place between the Bundys and the BLM agents, and then the cattle were released by the BLM. About 43 cowboys then herded the cattle down under the I-15 bridges to the south side of the freeway. Protesters were there yelling for the release, but we were at least a half a mile from the cattle pens. The BLM released the cattle and the 43 cowboys herded them back under the freeway.

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